Transport - Benefits and Harm
See also the page on Road Costs.
We take for granted the benefits of transport - allowing us, at least those of us who have the wealth - to get goods from afar and to go to distant places to sample their delights, and to do business across the globe. No need to rehearse these advantages here. We all just assume that Transport Is A Good Thing.
But is it really worth it?
- Plague at Eyam, Derbyshire, 1665. The plague arrived in the village in a box of fine French cloth from London. Many died.
- Rabbits taken to Australia. 'Nuff said.
- Cats taken to New Zealand, decimated the ground-dwelling birds.
- Dutch Elm Disease in the U.K. Brought in a cargo of infected elm timber to one (perhaps two) of the south-coast ports, the disease spread throughout the U.K. during the 1970s and 1980s, and killed almost *all* of the Elm trees in England. Scottish Elms, being a different species, were perhaps more resistant, but have succumbed in the 1990s.
- Waterweed in Uganda. A decorative waterweed was taken to Uganda to some Westerner's garden, and spread from the pond into the wild. It is now a major source of problems on Lake Victoria and the Nile in Uganda.
- Destruction of local communities and economies in the U.K. Those communities to which motorways were built have declined, as have their economies. This is the reverse of what was expected. Expected: the local firms would have better market access in the rest of the country and Europe, and would therefore thrive. Actual: the large national and international chains were given easy access to the local markets, and put many local firms out of business. Before the local communities were 'opened up to competition', the local firms who wished to could find their ways out while large chains could not so easily find their way in, because they did not know the local ways.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 1998. Comments and examples greatly appreciated.
Last updated: 10 September 1999 link to elms. 7 February 2001 email. 16 May 2011 link to andrew repaired, and unet gone.